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Bioethical PID Report

06.08.2004

Vienna - In its recently presented report on pre-implantation diagnostics (PID) the Bioethics Commission at the Austrian Federal Chancellery deliberately avoided a decision on a particular option. “This should rather be the result of the political process and the work of legislature. The Bioethics Commission however reviewed and presented all parties' arguments in the current debate,” said chairman Prof. Dr. Johannes Huber. While the 19 commission members unanimously agreed on the scientific-medical aspects, areas of ethical and legal applicability as well as the different legal options, they also expressly pointed out that this does not represent an unconditional recommendation for PID - conversely a total ban is neither ethically nor legally acceptable.
According to renowned legal experts the current Reproductive Medicines Law provides sufficient scope for the research on and the treatment of so-called “cells that are capable to develop” to a degree, which according to the current state of medical sciences and experience are necessary to induce pregnancy. Thus PID would presently be acceptable and legal if the embryos concerned had a limited life expectancy due to chromosomal abnormalities or other genetic malfunctions. Within this tight framework PID would also be ethically acceptable. Seven members that opt for maintaining the current legal status prefer the limitation of PID to these extreme cases of “non-viable” embryos within the current legislation on in vitro-fertilisation. The other twelve members recommended to extend applicability of PID in certain cases to couples that are under high risk to get children with severe genetically determined diseases - including the determination of the disease-related sex. General genetic screening or PID as means for positive selection for desirable features received outright rejected from the commission.

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